Dr. Phil MohlerMOHLER'S MEDICATION MAXIMSGrand Junction Free Press Health & Wellness Columnist

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March 21, 2013
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MOHLER: Naming drugs is more fun than sudoku

They grace your television screen and your favorite magazine. At times, they seem musical, comical or unintelligible. They are drug names.How do new drugs get their names? Big Pharma companies have entire departments devoted to naming their new products. What are their guidelines?Ideally, the new name offers clues both to both prescribing physicians and patients as to the drug's function. Flomax, a drug designed to improve urinary steams is a winning name, as is Flonase, for improving air passage through your nose. Bart Simpson took Focusin, an imaginary drug, for his ADD.Secondly, doctors should be able to pronounce and spell the name of the new drug. I can neither pronounce nor spell Myrbetriq, a new overactive bladder product.Finally, the new product name has to pass the FDA "sniff test" for reasonableness. Johnson & Johnson's proposed name for a new hormonal product "Perfest" was rejected by the FDA as sounding too much like the perfect estrogen. J&J swapped two letters and the FDA was happy with "Prefest."Some names are poetic: Lyrica, Truvada and Femara. The "Viagra" name giver should have gotten a huge bonus for his "Vi" = vitality and vigor and rhymes with "Niagra," a mighty flow. "Xanax" the popular tranquilizer creates images of Xanadu.Drugs with that start with the letter "Z" add a high tech component to their products: Zyban, Zegerid (an unbelievably expensive way to treat your heartburn), Zithromax and even better the "Z-pak" have all been lucrative "Z" drugs. Who could feel off balance after a tablet or two of "Zentrip" for their motion sickness?The antidepressant namers have outdone themselves. Effexor will "fix" you. Pristiq creates a pristine you. VIVActil, WELLbutrin, zoLOFT and the earliest modern antidepressant ELAVil all cry out their hope for your sadness.And for an enterprising pharmaceutical company looking for some "free" drug names, my young partner and I, both stunted at age 10 level of humor, offer:• Gorillacillin and Cefkillitall.........two new potent antibiotics• Stoppeen ..........................urinary incontinence product• Viagracycline.........combination product for managing erectile dysfunction and sexually transmitted disease• Zzzzzzz.......................fabulous new all night sleeping pillDr. Mohler has practiced family medicine in Grand Junction for 38 years. He has a particular interest in pharmaceutical education. Phil works part-time for both Primary Care Partners and Rocky Mountain Health Plans.


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The Post Independent Updated Mar 21, 2013 11:59AM Published Mar 21, 2013 11:58AM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.